4 out of 4 stars
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Born in India, Muthu Tikaram was believed to be “cursed” by her family for not being born a boy. She grew up to believe that she was the cause of the many sufferings her family endured. She was pushed away and hated by her grandmother and did not receive an education like her two older sisters, Safa and Belli, who were doted on. While her sisters were in school, Muthu sold Roti with her friend Maheesh. The two friends spent their time pretending to be like the stars of Bollywood, hoping for this to become reality one day.
After a near death experience, it is discovered that Muthu has a rare talent of being able to squeeze herself into tight places. This earns her the nickname of “Elastic Girl”. Soon after her home is destroyed and her family is left with nothing, Muthu is sold to the circus by her father who hopes to profit on this newly found gift.
Muthu’s excitement for this new adventure quickly fades as she realizes some of the harsh realities of the circus. She experiences immense hardships, death, and rejection. All the while, believing that her grandmother was right, she is the cause of all the evil and suffering that surrounds her.
Elastic Girl by Olivia Rana is the story of a brave young girl who preservers through every hardship. From the slums of India to the circus, Muthu continues to gain strength. Through out her story, she begins to realize that maybe she is not the cause of bad things after all. That she is worthy of love and a good life. Along with her, readers will feel every heartbreak and torment Muthu endures and rejoice in every triumph!
“My mind had been stretched and tormented, but like elastic it had snapped back into place, and filled with new energy and determination…” Pg. 230, Elastic Girl
Olivia Rana did a wonderful job creating a culturally rich story. Readers get a picture of what it is like for families in poverty, as well as cultural food, clothing, and religion. This book gives an opportunity to learn new customs and be transported to a different country. I found that researching different Indian words, places, or religious customs gave an even greater cultural depth to the story. It is worth it to take some time to read about the cultural references that may be unfamiliar. Rana also brings light to the reality of sexual abuse and sex trafficking and she effectively tackled a difficult subject.
I would give Elastic Girl 4 out of 4 stars. It is well written and edited. Rana writes with beautiful descriptions that never fail to evoke deep emotions. It is a culturally rich story with much to learn about endurance and continuing through life despite consistent heartbreak.
I would recommend this story to those who like underdog story lines and would enjoy the bravery of a young girl born into hardship. I’d also recommend it to those who enjoy rich cultures, as there is much to learn from the book. My favorite part of Elastic Girl was the way Muthu shows that the worst we see in ourselves is not always what is true. Though life will always be full of hardships, we are not defined by them! What a powerful lesson of inner strength Muthu gives!
I would not recommend to those who would dislike names, places, and cultural references that they may not recognize. I would also caution those that are sensitive to sexual abuse and trafficking as this is plays a major part in Muthu’s story.
I would absolutely read this book again and would recommend it to others. Thank you, Olivia Rana for writing such a beautiful and emotional story!
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